The Fields L.A. puts Burritos La Palma, Shirley Chung, Timothy Hollingsworth, and other superstars under one roof.

By Andy Wang
August 13, 2018
Coco

The Fields L.A., opening Tuesday, August 14, next to LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium, is a food hall with a powerhouse lineup. This place, near the USC campus, should feel like an instant rival to Grand Central Market.

There are A-list chefs like two-time Top Chef standout Shirley Chung (who’s opening a standalone Ms. Chi Cafe in Culver City in the coming weeks) and Otium’s Timothy Hollingsworth (the former French Laundry chef de cuisine who represented the United States in the 2009 Bocuse d’Or finale). Chad Colby, the former Chi Spacca executive chef who’s working to open a restaurant called Antico later this year, is doing a pop-up at The Fields with pizza and focaccia sandwiches. Jason Fullilove, the Campanile and Patina Restaurant Group alum who became a pop-up sensation before opening up his own Barbara Jean restaurant, is serving Southern food. Roy Ner, a big name in Australia who’s known for the upscale Middle Eastern food at Sydney’s Nour, is making his L.A. debut at The Fields. And perhaps best of all, the Mexican food at The Fields comes from three L.A. all-stars: Alberto Bañuelos’ Burritos La Palma, Connie Cossio’s Coni’ Seafood, and Paco Perez of Aqui es Texcoco.

Here’s your guide to everything you should be eating at The Fields.

Burritos La Palma

Aliza J. Sokolow

With restaurants in El Monte and Santa Ana known for the best flour tortillas in Southern California, Burritos La Palma serves habit-forming beef birria, bean-and-cheese, and chicken-and-potato burritos. Our favorite burrito, though, is the one with spicy stewed chicharrónes that are pleasantly chewy and a flavor-packed bite unlike any other pork rinds we’ve ever had. Burritos La Palma, an offshoot of a restaurant that started in Jerez, Zacatecas, makes the kind of food we crave so much that we’ve driven an hour to El Monte and Santa Ana multiple times and also arranged days around going to get its burritos at Smorgasburg and The Goods Mart. We’re so happy to have it in South L.A., not far from downtown. Bonus: You can order Burrito La Palma’s nachos with beef or chicken at The Fields.

Coni’ Seafood

The Nayarit-style seafood the Cossio family serves in Inglewood and a new location in Del Rey is dazzling, fresh fish and shellfish that bursts with heat, acid, love, and the nuances of old-school family recipes. At The Fields, this means shrimp ceviche verde, fish tacos, shrimp-and-octopus tostaditas, and coctel de camaron with shrimp and Clamato.

Al Pastor

Paco Perez, the Mexican barbecue master known for Aqui es Texcoco, is serving street-style al pastor tacos and also grilling beef and chicken at The Fields. A bowl of esquites, with corn, mayonnaise, and cotija cheese, works nicely as a side dish or a vegetarian option.

Ms. Chi

Aliza J. Sokolow

Shirley Chung, who was a culinary force at Las Vegas restaurants including José Andrés’ China Poblano, makes vegan mapo tofu taste meaty and richly umami by grinding shiitakes and other mushrooms with preserved vegetables (zha cai). That excellent mapo tofu also gets a hit of mala from Sichuan bean paste (doubanjiang). Chung’s dumplings include beef-and-sweet-carrot potstickers with a “blush”-colored wrapper made with tomato and carrot powder. For the salty-sweet bliss that’s her cheese foam oolong tea, Chung whips together cream cheese, Parmesan, and milk before shooting it through an iSi cream charger, so it’s lighter than traditional cheese foam you find in Asia. This is casual Chinese fare reflected through the lens of a seasoned chef who understands the high-low balance of L.A. food in 2018. If this is the future of fast-casual, we’re down.

Barbara Jean

Big Easy does it at Jason Fullilove’s Barbara Jean, where the former fine-dining chef is serving shrimp/chicken/pork sausage jambalaya, crawfish mac and cheese, oyster po’ boys, and hummingbird cake. Because Barbara Jean shares a section with Ms. Chi, the jambalaya comes with jasmine rice. It works.

C.J. Boyd’s Fried Chicken

Coco

C.J. Boyd’s, named after Houston-born chef Timothy Hollingsworth’s grandfather, takes Southern fried chicken and puts it into sandwiches that reflect L.A.’s diverse communities. So the East L.A. sandwich has salsa macha, cabbage, cilantro, and lime crema, and the K-Town sandwich has chili, ginger, cabbage, daikon, and sesame mayo. There’s also a great Buffalo chicken sandwich and the culture-blending Otium sandwich with aji verde, shishito, onion, tomato, soy, and lime. The Malibu sandwich comes with tomato, romaine lettuce, pepper jack, and mayo. C.J. Boyd’s also serves banana pudding made with a recipe that goes back to Hollingsworth’s grandmother, Patsy Boyd. “It’s a recipe that literally my grandma made, my sisters make, my mom makes, and now my wife makes,” Hollingsworth says. It’s a stellar rendition of a classic dessert, complete with a vanilla wafer cookie.

Akko Port

“This is Tel Aviv on a plate,” says chef Roy Ner as he presents a chicken shawarma roll with housemade laffa bread, yogurt, and difference-making charcoal-fired eggplant. Ner grew up in Israel and has taken Middle Eastern food to new heights at Nour, his much-buzzed-about restaurant in Australia. He says he’s at The Fields “to kind of break all of that down to everyday food,” to put the flavors and stories of his heritage into accessible handheld delights, to celebrate the kind of cooking he saw in his mom’s and grandmother’s kitchens. Because he’s in L.A., he’s “freshening up” his Israeli food with some local produce: The chicken roll includes fresh herbs and a little golden beetroot and kohlrabi. Akko Port also serves beef and falafel rolls, smoked hummus, and salads.

Piccolo Antico Pizzeria Focacceria

Chad Colby’s pop-up slice joint and sandwich stand, which he opened with help from chef Chester Hastings and dough guru Noel Brohner, sells “Roman-style pizza” by the slice or half-slice. But this pizza has crust that’s thicker and fluffier than what you’ll typically find in Rome. Colby, the meat master who used to run the kitchen at Nancy Silverton’s Chi Spacca, serves a three-meat slice (sausage, salami, and bacon) that’s like a better version of Pizza Hut’s Meat Lover’s pizza. To be clear: This is a huge compliment because Pizza Hut is pretty damn delicious. Now imagine Pizza Hut using superior dough, liberally pouring really good olive oil on the dough, and topping that dough with world-class charcuterie. This pizza is stunning, a Platonic ideal of a slice.

Beyond all this, you should know that The Fields also has stations for sweets like eclairs and soft-serve. And there’s lots of booze, including frozen, on-tap, and handmade cocktails from prolific barmen Nick Meyer and Julian Cox; wine selected by Taylor Parsons (previously the general manager and wine director at Republique); and a lineup of craft beers put together by cicerone James Mhaoir. Again, this is some lineup here.

Plus, Hollingsworth (who we hear might become a big TV star in the near future) is working on an upstairs restaurant, Free Play, with a full bar at The Fields. Hollingsworth hopes it will be a destination that “bridges the sports community” with students from nearby USC and L.A. food lovers. “The idea is to have fun, really approachable food and a lot of gaming,” he says. Expect creative bar snacks, a DJ booth, and live entertainment.

The Fields L.A., 3939 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles

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